Bathroom Lighting Tips

When it comes to lighting interior spaces, bathrooms are probably the most neglected of all. Most people will think that they don’t have to invest in there, and they’d just save the good lighting for the living room, kitchen, or other bigger areas. Often there’s just a single ceiling fixture that’s supposed to light up the whole room.

But as the modern bathroom is becoming a multi-operational space, moving from the functional to a relaxing retreat, the lighting now requires extra thought. Adequate bathroom lighting is important, more than you think. These are some of the tips and tricks on how to light your bathroom well:

1. Keep it bright

1. Keep it bright

No matter what size of your bathroom is, it must always feel bright and open. A ceiling-mounted or recessed overhead lighting is important for general illumination. Then add in some task lighting by the mirror, which can be placed above or on either side (more to this later). And you also have to make sure that the shower and the tub area is well-illuminated to avoid accidents.  

2. Light the vanity right

The vanity gets the top consideration when it comes to task lighting in the bathroom because it’s where you groom your head and face. A general overhead lighting placed in the center of your bathroom will certainly not be enough. One common lighting mistake people make in lighting the vanity is putting recessed ceiling fixtures directly over the mirror or directly down the head. This will be too harsh and casts a shadow on the face, making grooming difficult. Asymmetrical lighting is also a common mistake.

What you need to do instead is to place your ceiling light over the walkway area so you’re lit from behind. Or better yet, place vertical fixtures or sconces on either side of the mirror (around 36 to 40 inches apart) to cast an even light across your face. But if both of these ways are impractical for the size of your space, it can be advisable to put a fixture over the mirror that is placed 75 to 80 inches above the floor. The fixture must be at least 24 inches long to evenly spread light over the face and hair, must contain at least 150 watts.

3. Base your lighting after daylight

There is nothing like natural light, right? However, not all bathrooms are lucky enough to have windows that give sun rays some access. Natural light can bring out the true color of your face, makeup, hair, and clothes, so your bathroom lights must mimic it. Crisp white lights tend to render skin tones and clothes colors most accurately.

Then, use light bulbs that are appropriate for the room. To determine that, it depends on the bulb type:

  • Incandescent bulbs – Choose bulbs that have “white” color indicated (warm white or cool white) and has a color temperature that is between 2700K and 3000K.
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs – CFL bulbs that have Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 90 and above works great for bathrooms. This indicates that they are close to displaying colors the same way natural light does. Make sure its color temperature is also between 2700K and 3000K.
  • LED – Like the others, LED light bulbs must have a CRI of 90 and above and color temperature of 2700K and 3000K to make it suitable for the bathroom. Take into consideration the brightness of LED bulbs indicated in lumens.

4. Add dimmers

Dimmer lights act as your mood controller for the room. If you want to relax in your tub like in a spa, using a dimmer switch can help. It can help control the intensity of your lights and can work as an ambient or accent light. Plus, it also helps conserve energy.

Dimmers work for every kind of light source. An incandescent or halogen light bulb will need an incandescent dimmer, while LED and fluorescent light bulbs need their own compatible dimmers.

5. Place the fixtures above the shower and/or tub correctly

The shower and tub area is of second priority when it comes to task lighting.  If your bathroom is small, and the shower stall has a clear glass door, adding an additional fixture may not be necessary. But if the shower area is dark when the door or shower curtain is closed, recessed lighting with a glass lens is recommended. This also works above your freestanding tub or the toilet.

If you have the ceiling space, you can choose a decorative fixture above your tub or toilet. Small chandeliers and flush ceiling lights can give a relaxing and romantic aura for your bathroom.

6. Make safe lighting choices

When it comes to hanging lighting directly a tub, make sure you follow building codes in your area. In lighting the shower and tub area, use only fixtures that are rated for damp or wet locations. Any fixture you choose must be within a safe distance from the shower and above the tub. In the tub area, the base of the chandelier or any lighting fixture must be a minimum of 8 feet above the tub, and you must not be able to touch any part of the fixture while you’re standing in a tub full of water.